Author Topic: Ladies - mammograms  (Read 3465 times)

NewPerspective

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #50 on: May 01, 2018, 11:18:33 AM »
Thanks for everyone sharing their thoughts.  My biggest issue is that it causes me a HUGE amount of anxiety.  Not the actual procedure, but the results.  Because I have fibrocystic tissue I'm ALWAYS lumpy, tender, achey, etc.   The whole thing just makes me want to run far away and bury my head in the sand (I haven't as you can tell my having had 4 so far at the age of 41) but I need to find a way to get a grip on the anxiety.   It makes me not be able to function when I'm in the grips of it.

I've tried reading some stuff of Stocism but it didn't really stick.  Maybe I'll try again.

I saw a therapist for 9 months last year but it seem to really help (although I liked her a lot).

Can you ask for ultrasound instead of mammography?  I thought I had a lump once and when I expressed to the doctor that I didn't think the tech got the right spot in the mammogram, the doctor wouldn't let me leave until I felt comfortable that everything was checked and okay.  So he gave me an ultrasound on the spot.  Mammography has become so routine that you rarely get to speak to a real doctor during the process and the techs can't tell you anything.  This was a nice change from the routine and it really only came about because someone screwed up the initial mammogram and they had to call me back for a re-do.

I know what you mean about it being so routine that you don't see a doctor.   I hate the waiting part the most I think (and also studying the tech's face to see if they have a look of horror when processing the images).  Since I have dense tissue I do always have an ultrasound with the mammogram.    The issue with that is the ultrasound finds more things, which is good and bad of course.  I just had a biopsy done yesterday on something the US picked up.  Thankfully it was BENIGN! but the whole thing is just really scary to me.

I think Abe made a good point - the guidelines about mammograms less often is for women of average risk.  I think that is the part that is really confusing for a lot of people.  What makes you above average risk?  My two risk factors are dense breasts and no kids.  So does that automatically make me "high risk" for my age? I don't know and I'm not sure how to find out.    (I've taken the online calculators that say I'm average risk but it is hard to know if that is really what you should go by).  My doctor is very much in the go in annually camp but he isn't basing that on risk factors.  It is just his blanket recommendation.




sui generis

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #51 on: May 01, 2018, 12:16:37 PM »
I just had a biopsy done yesterday on something the US picked up.  Thankfully it was BENIGN! but the whole thing is just really scary to me.

Congrats!  What a relief, eh?  Good for you!

NewPerspective

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #52 on: May 01, 2018, 12:46:54 PM »
I just had a biopsy done yesterday on something the US picked up.  Thankfully it was BENIGN! but the whole thing is just really scary to me.

Congrats!  What a relief, eh?  Good for you!

Such a relief!!!!  OMG! 

I just ordered a book called Breasts: The Owner's Manual.  I plan to read it and try to make some good decisions about screening and such going forward.  (It is a written by a breast surgeon so I'm sure it will say screen annually but hopefully there is other good information).

Cassie

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #53 on: May 01, 2018, 02:50:29 PM »
At 63 I have begun to question some of the routine tests and have been doing some research. For instance as you age your colon lining thins so having routine colonoscopies can be fatal if they puncture your lining due to most people developing sepsis. Some doctors won't even do them after 70. My DH at 45 was having impotence problems so took meds for it.  By 49 the meds no longer worked and the doctor did a biopsy and found that he had early prostate cancer. Even though it grows slow at that young age he would be dead eventually before he was old. We kept testing and when the numbers got high enough about 4 years later he did the radiation seeds.  I did read that the radiation from the mammograms cause cancer and it is the same as having a chest xray.  I think it is important to weigh the risks/benefits instead of being sheep. 

wenchsenior

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #54 on: May 01, 2018, 08:10:36 PM »
At 63 I have begun to question some of the routine tests and have been doing some research. For instance as you age your colon lining thins so having routine colonoscopies can be fatal if they puncture your lining due to most people developing sepsis. Some doctors won't even do them after 70. My DH at 45 was having impotence problems so took meds for it.  By 49 the meds no longer worked and the doctor did a biopsy and found that he had early prostate cancer. Even though it grows slow at that young age he would be dead eventually before he was old. We kept testing and when the numbers got high enough about 4 years later he did the radiation seeds.  I did read that the radiation from the mammograms cause cancer and it is the same as having a chest xray.  I think it is important to weigh the risks/benefits instead of being sheep.

Yeah, I have ongoing digestive issues, and am a few years from my first colonoscopy.  I have two older friends that had to have emergency visits and surgery due to colon punctures from standard colonoscopies.  I want to get mine in as a baseline, but if they don't find anything critical, I'm definitely not planning on rushing for any follow ups...

Ugh, some of these

Cassie

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #55 on: May 01, 2018, 09:37:30 PM »
So glad your friends survived. From my research that is not usually the case.  On one thread someone said I should do what my doctor said.  I think it is my decision .

BlueHouse

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #56 on: May 02, 2018, 10:37:44 AM »
At 63 I have begun to question some of the routine tests and have been doing some research. For instance as you age your colon lining thins so having routine colonoscopies can be fatal if they puncture your lining due to most people developing sepsis. Some doctors won't even do them after 70. My DH at 45 was having impotence problems so took meds for it.  By 49 the meds no longer worked and the doctor did a biopsy and found that he had early prostate cancer. Even though it grows slow at that young age he would be dead eventually before he was old. We kept testing and when the numbers got high enough about 4 years later he did the radiation seeds.  I did read that the radiation from the mammograms cause cancer and it is the same as having a chest xray.  I think it is important to weigh the risks/benefits instead of being sheep.

Yeah, I have ongoing digestive issues, and am a few years from my first colonoscopy.  I have two older friends that had to have emergency visits and surgery due to colon punctures from standard colonoscopies.  I want to get mine in as a baseline, but if they don't find anything critical, I'm definitely not planning on rushing for any follow ups...

Ugh, some of these
Just had my first colonoscopy and boy, was I scared about it!  Fortunately, I had the best doctor imaginable who put me at complete ease.  He also told me his stats:  after 20,000 colonoscopies, he has had one perforation and that was while removing a large polyp.  I had a polyp and he removed it on the spot.  Everything else came up clean.  I'm glad to be rid of that polyp.  After all, as some random person told me (which convinced me to get the test) , while not all polyps turn into cancer, all colon cancers start as polyps. 

On a plus side, I was having trouble with my "gut" and feeling like i had to take probiotics, or do something different to get the chemistry back to normal.  After the Colonoscopy prep, I feel like I've had a total colon cleanse and reset and I actually wouldn't mind doing that once a year or so.  The prep was nothing like what had been described by friends.  They've obviously made great headway in this area. 

My advice:  find the right doctor and get it done on schedule.  For me, that's not for another 10 years. 

 
Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

NewPerspective

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #57 on: May 02, 2018, 11:41:31 AM »
At 63 I have begun to question some of the routine tests and have been doing some research. For instance as you age your colon lining thins so having routine colonoscopies can be fatal if they puncture your lining due to most people developing sepsis. Some doctors won't even do them after 70. My DH at 45 was having impotence problems so took meds for it.  By 49 the meds no longer worked and the doctor did a biopsy and found that he had early prostate cancer. Even though it grows slow at that young age he would be dead eventually before he was old. We kept testing and when the numbers got high enough about 4 years later he did the radiation seeds.  I did read that the radiation from the mammograms cause cancer and it is the same as having a chest xray.  I think it is important to weigh the risks/benefits instead of being sheep.

Yeah, I have ongoing digestive issues, and am a few years from my first colonoscopy.  I have two older friends that had to have emergency visits and surgery due to colon punctures from standard colonoscopies.  I want to get mine in as a baseline, but if they don't find anything critical, I'm definitely not planning on rushing for any follow ups...

Ugh, some of these
Just had my first colonoscopy and boy, was I scared about it!  Fortunately, I had the best doctor imaginable who put me at complete ease.  He also told me his stats:  after 20,000 colonoscopies, he has had one perforation and that was while removing a large polyp.  I had a polyp and he removed it on the spot.  Everything else came up clean.  I'm glad to be rid of that polyp.  After all, as some random person told me (which convinced me to get the test) , while not all polyps turn into cancer, all colon cancers start as polyps. 

On a plus side, I was having trouble with my "gut" and feeling like i had to take probiotics, or do something different to get the chemistry back to normal.  After the Colonoscopy prep, I feel like I've had a total colon cleanse and reset and I actually wouldn't mind doing that once a year or so.  The prep was nothing like what had been described by friends.  They've obviously made great headway in this area. 

My advice:  find the right doctor and get it done on schedule.  For me, that's not for another 10 years.

I agree with you.  I had a colonoscopy last month after learning my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer recently (age 65, never had a colonoscopy, heavy drinker and smoker).  I was nervous about the results but not the actual procedure.  My experience was similar to yours, GREAT doctor and easy-peasy procedure.  I got the all clear but I do have to go back in 5 years instead of 10 due to family history.   This is one I wouldn't skip.  For me, the benefit very much outweighs the risk. 

I'm still unsure about the whole mammogram thing but I will likely continue getting them yearly along with the ultrasound.  I read a good part of the Breast book that I mentioned upthread last night.  It was interesting (and a little scary).  The author does address the studies showing that mammo's don't reduce the death rates, etc.  However, she still comes down on the side of yearly screening.    She also addresses the fact that mammograms do cause breast cancer, but it is a very low rate.  She gives a chart of different amounts of radiation exposure, I can't remember the details off the top of my head, but mammograms have lower amounts than a standard chest x-ray.


Cassie

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #58 on: May 06, 2018, 11:52:05 PM »
Always a trade off and no right answer.

sui generis

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #59 on: May 17, 2018, 11:17:35 AM »
Got my baseline mammogram yesterday.  So uncomfortable.  Everyone kept telling me how very, very common it is for first-timers to be called back for a diagnostic screening because there's a spot or two they want to investigate further.  And that I shouldn't freak out at all if I am called back.  The technician told me 60% are called back.  Yikes!  And then she told me that appointment would be like a full hour instead of just 15 minutes!  I was like, what did I get myself into for this breast health study?  I was actually sort of regretting it. My SO said, "As a scientist, thank you for your contribution!" and I made a face at him.  I'm also involved in a brain health study, so I think I have done my part for science now!

Just got the results - it was normal and I'm not being called back for additional screening!  Now I hope the study doesn't require me to do any additional screening for lots of years and I'll be happy. 

NewPerspective

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #60 on: May 18, 2018, 07:02:59 AM »
Yay!!! that is GREAT news!  So glad you are all clear and won't need to go back anytime soon.  :-)    How did you learn about the different studies?

I have to do a follow up UltraSound in six months, but I'm feeling better about it all in general.  Whatever will be, will be as they say.   :-)  (cut to me in six months, in a complete panic meltdown :-))

sui generis

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #61 on: May 18, 2018, 09:47:26 AM »
Yay!!! that is GREAT news!  So glad you are all clear and won't need to go back anytime soon.  :-)    How did you learn about the different studies?

Thanks!  I got solicited to participate in these studies just through my healthcare provider, I think.  I go to UCSF, a major research hospital, so I guess that's why.  The brain health study just has me to do online questionnaires and "games" (memory/reaction time tests) every 6 months, which is definitely not as burdensome as doing a mammogram!

JoJo

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #62 on: May 19, 2018, 06:38:16 AM »
I'm 45.  Like you I have a large lump but it is not cancer.  I dread going to the doctor because they comment on it every time and then try to refer me for a diagnostic rather than a preventative  screening, that automatically makes it fully payable by me since preventative is covered but diagnostic is payable up to my $6000 out of pocket.  Totally ridiculous.

I'm over due for another physical.  I'm tempted to reject the breast exam portion and just set up an appointment for a mammogram.

Mezzie

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #63 on: May 19, 2018, 10:13:40 AM »
I've getting annual mammos since I was 34. I have a ton of cysts and fibrous tissue, so the mammos always look suspicious, but the ultrasounds (every six months) and biopsies are, so far, always fine. I've been meaning to ask my doctors if I could just skip the mammos and do ultrasounds semi-annually: less radiation and clearer results sounds like a win-win to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

There is a family history, which is why I started so young.
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elliha

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #64 on: May 19, 2018, 11:17:32 AM »
In Sweden you get an appointment for a mammogram every other year from 40-74 and I plan to go to the checkups when that time comes.

freya

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #65 on: May 19, 2018, 12:00:31 PM »
Mariposa and other health professionals, thank you for your thoughtful perspectives.  FWIW, I am also a health professional although this is not my area of specialty.

After a few mammograms that all resulted in callbacks plus my personal assessment of the data, I quit doing them for a while but now that I'm on HRT, I'm being pressured to get back on the wagon.  However, I'm convinced they are nearly useless.  This is because screening can only really be effective for cancers that grow slowly and will eventually almost always become malignant.  This is the case for colon cancers, but not for breast cancer.  Instead, you get many precancerous growths only a very few of which go on to become cancerous.  The ones that become malignant develop very quickly.  To be fully effective, the mammogram schedule would be every 2-3 months, and you'd have to undergo > 10 biopsy procedures for each malignant cancer that gets caught. The every year or 2 year schedule, meanwhile, is like spitting into the ocean.  When the recommendation was changed to every 2 years from every year, I took that as a public admission that the screening program is basically a failure.

So I'm not quite sure what to do...I'll probably get the mammos to "treat" my physician, but just drag them out as long as possible to minimize my chances of getting caught in the overtreatment mill.

 

NewPerspective

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #66 on: May 19, 2018, 12:15:39 PM »
I've getting annual mammos since I was 34. I have a ton of cysts and fibrous tissue, so the mammos always look suspicious, but the ultrasounds (every six months) and biopsies are, so far, always fine. I've been meaning to ask my doctors if I could just skip the mammos and do ultrasounds semi-annually: less radiation and clearer results sounds like a win-win to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

There is a family history, which is why I started so young.

I don't think they will let you skip the mammo.  I feel like I asked one time and was told no, but I didn't push it or ask additional questions.  Next time I go in I will ask again.  I agree with you, I'd much rather just do the US.  For what its worth, my GYN said the 3D mammograms catch a lot more cancer at earlier stages than the older machines.  Who knows though.  It can be a little frustrating to read studies and such but then have all the doctors you actually see tell you the opposite.  "My" radiologist looked horrified when I said I was thinking of just doing the mammo every other year. (Yet when I said I was wondering if I should talk to a doctor about taking Tamixofen because of my breast density, he said that was not appropriate given my situation.  My GYN agreed).   So yeah.

 

kanga1622

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Re: Ladies - mammograms
« Reply #67 on: May 19, 2018, 09:04:01 PM »
Thanks for everyone sharing their thoughts.  My biggest issue is that it causes me a HUGE amount of anxiety.  Not the actual procedure, but the results.  Because I have fibrocystic tissue I'm ALWAYS lumpy, tender, achey, etc.   The whole thing just makes me want to run far away and bury my head in the sand (I haven't as you can tell my having had 4 so far at the age of 41) but I need to find a way to get a grip on the anxiety.   It makes me not be able to function when I'm in the grips of it.

I've tried reading some stuff of Stocism but it didn't really stick.  Maybe I'll try again.

I saw a therapist for 9 months last year but it seem to really help (although I liked her a lot).

I struggle with this a great deal too. My mom has had breast cancer twice (plus another kind of cancer, and then my dad has had four kinds of cancer), and I am considered high risk. Iím 42 now and have had annual mammograms for about six years. For the past three years Iíve been on an every six month schedule with the breast surgeon with alternating mammograms and MRIs, plus ultrasound at every visit.
I have incredibly dense breasts with tons of fibroids, and have had multiple biopsies, starting at age 25.

Sometimes it all feels like too much. The wait for results is often rough, and I feel like Iíve just shaken off the angst and itís six months later and time to do it all over again. But I will continue to do it because my risk score is so high and my parents have had cancer seven times between them. Self-exams are very hard to do on dense boobs with fibroids, and I can never trust whether the new lump I found is benign or something to worry about.

If I was at a low risk level with less dense breasts, I would feel more comfortable with skipping the annual mammogram. I hate feeling like itís a matter of when, not if, Iíll end up with cancer.

This is pretty much my life. My family history is very high risk so I have screening every 6 months. I started at age 35 as pregnancy/nursing made screenings very difficult prior to that. I also feel it is only a matter of time so I try to stay positive but keep up with the screenings.